Anxiety is an emotion we all may know too well. It can cause physical side effects such as increased blood pressure, sweating, trembling, and dizziness. If you experience chronic anxiety, it is always best to consult your doctor about a plan that would work best for you. However, there are many things we can do to control and reduce the anxiety we feel to live as peacefully as possible. Breathwork has been used to promote relaxation and to reduce stress while having anxiety attacks. When people are anxious, they tend to take short, shallow breaths, making it seem impossible to take deeper breaths to calm down. When we breathe, it delivers oxygen to our blood cells and releases carbon dioxide through our exhales. Improper breathing upsets the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, which feeds into anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, etc. The techniques below are to help balance this exchange to bring your body back to homeostasis.
Breathwork is an excellent tool for anyone, even if anxiety is not an issue for you.
We only use about 1/3 of our lungs capacity and its important to practice breathwork to increase this capacity. These techniques are also great to use before bed if you have a racing mind.
The most popular form is the 4-4-4. Inhaling for 4 seconds, holding in for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 4 seconds, hold again for 4 seconds and repeat! You can change up the length to what works best for you.
Breathing in through one nostril while the other is plugged with your finger, pause your breath and swap to plug the other nostril, and exhale through the other nostril, then inhaling through the nostril you just exhaled from.
Below is a video for demonstration
This is similar to the 4-4-4 box breathing, but with different length holds and exhales. You breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.
If you are someone who suffers from anxiety and stress, there are several supplements to aid in this. These can be an ideal option over anxiety medication but of course, consult with your doctor about what would be in your best interest.
Primary uses: Sleep, pain, anxiety, addiction recovery
This supplement is great for a racing mind and for calming the central nervous system. It is best used at night or in situations of great anxiety or pain.
Primary uses: Fatigue, stress, immune deficiency and auto-immune conditions
This is a great Ayurvedic supplement for those who put more energy out than they give back to themselves. It helps to prevent burnout and unrelenting stress.
Maca is a native plant of Peru grown in harsh conditions and very high altitudes. It has been used for thousands of years to promote energy and stamina, increase libido and enhance fertility. It aids the body in biochemical, physiological, and psychological stressors.
Primary uses: Bone health, depression, seasonal affective disorder, cardiovascular health, autoimmune conditions, disease prevention
Vitamin D has many various actions throughout the body, and deficiency has been associated with numerous conditions. I could go on and on about the benefits of vitamin D, but I will focus on how it helps our mental health. It is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin” and can help alleviate depression and other mood disorders. It is estimated that over 1 million Americans experience seasonal affective disorder. With winter around the corner, it is good to ensure our vitamin D levels are in an optimal range.